The People You Work With, The Lives You Touch (Part 1, Maybe)

I think this post may be part of a series I write on this topic. Awhile back Aviva Dunsiger @avivaloca wrote a post about teaming that started me  thinking about working in a team.
I have worked at my school for over 37 years and throughout the years have always team taught in one form or another. In my preschool years I first started as an assistant but quickly moved on to Lead/Head Teacher with two assistants. For awhile when I taught in the toddler program the configuration was two Head Teachers (co-teachers) sharing the responsibility of running the parent education component, setting and implementing curriculum and teaching the toddlers. I remember when I was the newbie of the partnership and looked to my teaching partner for guidance, mentoring and support. It was an incredible learning experience for me. Soon I became the one who was looked at as the experienced teacher, mentoring, guiding and supporting the newbie. Most times our teaming worked well and we enjoyed some of the camaraderie we established. However when the parents looked to me for guidance or to lead the parent education component and discussion, my team mate became resentful and disillusioned with our set up. When guided by our administrator to help her show more initiative and responsibility in the leadership role, she was not interested in making the effort that required more preparation, research and, truthfully, work! After awhile out teaming ended. I continued to be a Head Teacher working with two assistants in the preschool program. My former partner stayed at the school, but this time accepting an assistant teacher position. We remained cordial, but I always felt the hidden resentment as she laid blame on her situation at my feet. The years went by, triads in teams, as in friendships, has its foibles but as the Head teacher “the buck stopped here” (with me) and I took that to heart. For the most part I enjoyed and learned so much from the educators I worked with. Many inspired me and are memorable, a few thought me demanding and tough. But my focus stayed true to my “mission” which was Developmentally Appropriate Practices for young children and to work with parents in partnership for their children’s well being. I have met some of my former colleagues over the years and am always so happy when they share their memories of our work. I am often amazed how clear they are in their recollections that made the most impact on their professional lives, (and at times their personal lives). How proud I am to know that they continued to stay in education. And they do admit after further discussion, how at times they had to take a back seat as an assistant teacher. Did I take all the glory I wandered? It’s not who I am now, but was I then? Was I so sure of myself that there was no room for the other voice, the other opinion, the other way to approach a problem or learning and teaching? I wish I could say that I left room for them and my ego at the door each time, but that was not so. And I don’t  beat myself up when the conversations turns in that direction. I have learned to reflect, move on and do better. Unless one lives in a vacuum and is not effected by what others may think or feel about them, then their interpersonal relationships is not a concern or a strength (when looking through the lens of Howard Gardner and his Multiple  intelligences
I have always worked in a team teaching situation and still have more to say but want to end this post with a conversation I had with Aviva on Twitter this evening after reading her blog post on the 100th day of school.

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Have you had experiences working in a teaming situation? Whether as a teacher or in another capacity? Do you have defined roles?

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2 Responses to The People You Work With, The Lives You Touch (Part 1, Maybe)

  1. adunsiger says:

    Thanks for the mention here, Faige! You make some great points about teams, and also that underlying idea that we can learn a lot from both those good and bad experiences. You mention here the importance of reflection and doing better. What impact have these conversations had on you? What have you changed?

    Aviva

    • faige says:

      As I said, I might write more about teaming in another post. But, to answer your question, I came to understand that perspectives/perceptions belong to the “owner” and to validate those difference. Not necessarily to agree, but to be more aware of strengths and challenges in each of us; not having walked in another’s shoes.

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